Designing the alarm event recorder for the Autronica KM-2 system

The case study concerns a ferry, which belongs to one of the biggest Polish shipowners. The key element, responsible for the safety of the crew as well as all the passengers, is an Autronica KM-2 alarm system. It is a complex solution, gathering information about all malfunctions and non-typical events and passing the information to the crew using light and voice signals. It also shows which device is currently in the alarm state by lighting a lamp on the desk, which is present in the engine control room.

Alarm event logger

The entire system has been working properly for many years, but there has appeared one problem which was caused by specific conditions in which the crew had to work. All the sailors and officers are being swapped every 2 weeks with the second crew. The frequent rotation of people caused a lot of misunderstandings and problems with information exchange about the events, which had occurred during the past 2 weeks. The shipowner made a decision to extend the system functionality by adding a feature, which would allow the crew to look into the history of all the events that had happened in the past days, weeks or months. Basically, they needed an alarm event recorder.

Unfortunately-the original manufacturer has never developed a device which would add this feature to the AUTRONICA KM-2 system. The only solution that the producer recommended was a total exchange of the whole alarm system. The costs would be extremely high, especially considering the fact that it would also require the ferry to stay in the harbor for several days instead of cruising through the sea.

complete system

The shipowner has asked the MAREL company to develop and implement a whole new module, which would add the aforementioned functionality to the Autronica system. We have started from studying carefully the original datasheet and developing a device which gathers all the signals transferred throughout the system and sends the data to the second part of the system: an industrial PC. The computer, together with dedicated software installed on it, sends all the important information to the printer and shows it on the monitor, which also has been mounted in the engine control room. The system also has a couple of memory cards installed, meaning it can be considered a “black box” and can be used in situations where printouts are not available.

Marel recorder PCB

It is worth mentioning that the entire exchange was performed without making any major changes to the existing automation or alarm circuits during the normal ship’s exploitation. It helped to avoid any unnecessary spending and was the most economical of all possible solutions.

Installing the system appeared to be such a huge success that the shipowner immediately asked the MAREL company to increase the system functionality by adding several new features, such as gathering alarms from other parts of the ship’s automation and power control units, which were not even connected to the aforementioned Autronica system in the first place.